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Car theft is a total nightmare for a car owner. One moment your car was there, safe and sound – the next, it’s gone. Car theft is inconvenient, and many stolen cars are never recovered. And unless you have comprehensive car insurance, you may not be covered for the value of your car.
Car thieves don’t just take cars, though – they’ll also target valuables like electronics that have been left in your car, as well as systems like car stereos, on occasion. This results in that sinking feeling when you walk up to your car and see broken glass where your window once was.
So if you’re looking to avoid car theft and break-ins, we’ve put together a list of 5 simple ways that you can deter thieves from breaking into your car. Read on, and keep your vehicle safe with these easy tips.
1. First Off, Get Things Out Of Plain Sight
Stealing from a car is a bit different than stealing the car itself – but it’s still a crime of opportunity. If a thief notices that you have a MacBook Pro just laying in your front seat, for example, they will be far more likely to break into your car.
Ideally, you should never leave your valuable stuff in your car at all. But if you have to leave valuables in your car for some reason or another, take appropriate precautions. Cover your valuable stuff or stash it underneath your back seat. This will make it less obvious that you have valuables in your vehicle, and reduce the chances that your car is broken into. If you can, try to place things in the trunk so it's not visible thieves. Make sure to do this before you get to your destination, as you never know who might be watching!
2. Never Leave Your Keys In The Ignition If You’re Not In The Car
Modern cars have sophisticated anti-theft systems that can totally immobilize them if they’re stolen. However, these systems don’t work if a thief simply walks into your car and drives away because you left the car running and the keys in the ignition at a gas station.
If you’re not in the car, your car should be turned off, and your keys should be with you. It’s just as simple as that.
3. Keep Your Vehicle Locked At All Times
Your car has locks for a reason – use them. A locked car is much harder to break into, whether a thief is interested in stealing the car itself or just looking for valuables that you’ve left in the vehicle. Most thieves won’t bother trying to break into a locked car (unless they see something they want) – they’ll just look for a different car that’s unlocked.
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4. Invest in Deterrence
Anti-theft device countermeasures are standard on many modern cars, and some modern, internet-connected cars offer car tracking device systems. However, if your car is older, you may lack these precautionary measures.
The simplest device you can buy for your car if you’re concerned about theft is a mechanical immobilizer. Also known as “The Club”, mechanical immobilizers are large, physical locks that are placed around your steering column. They lock your steering wheel in place until the immobilizer is removed with the proper key.
More expensive anti-theft device options include electronic immobilizers, “kill switches”, and advanced car alarm systems. Although most cars have car alarms these days, and thieves still break into them, marking your car with an alarm sticker could discourage a broken window.
If you are extremely concerned about your car being stolen, a GPS-based vehicle tracking system can be installed. Though these systems (LoJack, OnStar, and others) are expensive, they boast up to a 90% return rate on stolen vehicles – sometimes within hours of theft.
5. Etch Your Car’s VIN On The Glass
This simple trick makes it hard for thieves to quickly sell your car at a low price. If the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is etched onto your windows, they will have to replace each piece of glass in order to sell the car and will make much less of a profit.
This is because your VIN is unique, and registered once you report a car as stolen to the police. It’s dangerous to try to sell a car that has its VIN etched on the window, and expensive to replace each piece of glass in order to resell the car. Because of this, If a thief sees that you have your VIN etched on your windows, they will usually simply walk away from your car, and stop considering its theft.
You can buy a DIY etching kit, or go to your local police station – many police stations offer free or inexpensive etching services for the community, as it makes the tracking of stolen cars much easier.
Follow These Steps To Safety
There’s no way to deter criminals 100% effectively – but by following the above steps, you’ll certainly be able to significantly reduce the chances that your car is stolen. So stay alert, stay aware, and use these five simple steps to stay safe and secure. Your car (and your insurance company!) will thank you.
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